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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Subsidising politicians

A report in yesterday's Telegraph that the cost of subsidising bars and restaurants in the Houses of Parliament is actually increasing at a time of austerity is a further indication that MPs do not get it. In contrast the Welsh Assembly has made a huge effort to reduce its catering subsidy.

Most public sector employers with catering facilities subsidise them, however few have the sort of deal available in Parliament, where prices are very generous compared with private sector providers nearby.

The paper reports that the Commons Commission said in June 2010 that £500,000 should be sliced from catering costs and bar prices should rise to those of high street pubs as part of a £12m cut to the Commons budget:

But in the Members Dining Room, MPs are served an artichoke and tomato salad with truffle dressing for £2.05, or a seared breast of pigeon with aubergine purée and spiced couscous for just £4.15.

A risotto of pea and broad bean with Golden Cross goat’s cheese costs £2.40, while MPs wishing to splash out on a char-grilled rib-eye steak with hand-cut chips and béarnaise sauce pay £7.80.

For pudding, they can enjoy a green tea and white chocolate brûlée for £2.05 or the cheese board for £3.10.

In the Terrace restaurant, a spinach, ricotta and sundried tomato pizza with a rocket salad costs £2.75, while at Moncrieff’s restaurant Members can enjoy a roasted half spring chicken with stuffing for £2.95.

Afterwards, they can head to the Pugin Room bar, where a glass of malt whisky, Cointreau liqueur or Grand Marnier costs £2.55. Glasses of 2009 Sauvignon Blanc or 2010 Merlot are £2.35.

Sales in Parliament’s 19 restaurants, nine bars and one coffee shop fell 8pc to £7.5 million in the financial year 2010/11. It means for every £10 an MP spent on lunch, the public contributed £7.60. The year before, the public contributed £6.90

Nice work if you can get it. Perhaps the Parliamentary authorities should try harder.
The prices are quite a bit higher now, but I think turnover has gone further down.
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